March 2017 Newsletter

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March's News from Bookbag Towers

Happy March, fellow Bookbaggers! We hope you are all hale, hearty and happy.

Guys, have a look at this! It's the panel of judges for this year's YA Book Prize award. Among the rest of the great and good, you might recognise Bookbag's great friend, Jim Dean. A more passionate supporter of YA fiction you couldn't hope to meet. Good luck judging, Jim, because the shortlist is wonderful.

World Book Day happened. Here, have some pictures of costumed little ones. And harried parents: yes, we know it's fun and the kids love it but we know that you're grateful it's over for another a year. We don't blame you. But do remember, this initiative does a great deal to encourage children to read for pleasure.

Have you seen the new words added to the lexicon by Oxford Dictionaries? They include clicktivism and haterade. Just like last year with Brexit, the new additions are dominated by political overtones. We are living in very political times, are we not? So much seems to be changing, including language.

And we've had the best news of 2017 so far! Philip Pullman's new trilogy has been announced. The first part of The Book of Dust is out in October. It's set 10 years before the events of The Golden Compass and centres on Lyra Belacqua. We're so excited to read it and October seems both a long way off and just around the corner. Roll on the tenth month!

And finally, can we all say RIP to Dick Bruna, creator of the iconic children's character Miffy the Rabbit, who died at the age of 89 last month? He sold 80 million books over his lifetime. They were translated into 50 languages. And who could forget those bright primary colours and clear but meaningful illustrations? Long live Miffy and farewell, Dick Bruna. You have our thanks.


Golden Hour

This month, Jill is indulging herself by reminding you of one of her favourite ever books as our blast from the past. Fup by Jim Dodge. Granddaddy Jake Santee has, after six and a half decades of riotous living, found the secret of immortality. It is in the distilling and drinking of Ol' Death Whisper, a moonshine recipe given to him by a dying Indian outside a gambling hall in Nevada City. Fup is his duck. Yes, his duck. Fup is a fairy tale for adults and a little book with a big heart and even bigger belly laugh. If you've never read it, you really, really should.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke loved Larchfield by Polly Clark. It's early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she's excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity but she soon finds that small town life can be suffocating. A powerful tale of isolation told across decades, Larchfield is a beautifully written exploration of humanity, loneliness and growth.

Lesley thinks you should look at Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. It's a painful love story playing out against the turmoil of late 20th century Nigerian politics – impacted as much by centuries of tradition than by the sometimes violent events of the times. It's tightly written with strong characters, but firmly plot-driven. Shifting viewpoints build the empathy that makes the final unravelling such an emotional experience. This novel is a phenomenal debut from a young writer.

In non-fiction, Sue recommends The Benn Diaries: The Definitive Collection by Tony Benn and Ruth Winstone (editor). Tony Benn must be one of the most famous diarists of the modern age. He kept a diary from his schooldays in the nineteen forties until he made his last entry in 2009, five years before his death. This composite volume of extracts from the diaries is a very readable, inspirational and thought provoking book for political junkies of all ideological stripes.

For younger ones, especially girls, interested in STEM fields, look no further than the inspirational Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. This fabulous set of mini biographies about women scientists from early history right up to the modern day is not only tremendously motivational, it's also a beautiful production with wonderful illustrations and a clever distilling of a lot of information.

For teens, Ruth suggests The Space Between by Meg Grehan, which tells Beth's story over the course of a year. Beth deals with her mental illness by locking herself away in her personal 'safe' world of isolation. Mouse the dog, however, has other ideas. With the entrance of Mouse into her life there comes, also, Alice and slowly Alice brings both light and love to Beth's world. It's raw, sensitive and honest. If you enjoy, or even just tolerate, free verse then you should definitely give this beautiful book a try.

Features

YA author Keren David has written for us this month. It wasn't until someone on Twitter tagged Keren's book The Liar's Handbook with #alternativefacts that she realised quite how well the title and themes hit the zeitgeist.So how do writers sift fact from fiction?

Sue's only problem with Granny with Benefits by Marilyn Bennett was that she would have loved to spend more time with the characters. When the author popped into Bookbag Towers there was quite a lot to chat about.

Reviewers

We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!

Competitions

We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!

And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk .

All at Bookbag Towers

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